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[REVIEW] ‘Frozen: the Musical’

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This past weekend, in Denver, a few lucky souls were able to see the final performances of the trial run of Disney’s latest theatrical musical – Frozen: the Musical. The goal of these trial runs is to test what works and then refine it for its Broadway debut. I’ve always felt that Frozen belonged on Broadway even more than in a movie and, to my pleasure, I was not disappointed. Frozen: the Musical does a great job of staying true to the original film while fleshing it out a bit more.

The first thing that this musical got right was the terrific casting. Caissie Levy and Patti Murin are terrific as Elsa and Anna, respectively. It’s a tall order to replace Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell but they do a great job. I particularly loved Levy’s rendition of ‘Let it Go’ (the entire number has the gravitas fans are hoping for along with an incredible quick dress change!). Greg Hildreth sounds so much like Josh Gad as Olaf that it is uncanny, and Jelani Alladin and John Riddle are terrific as Kristoff and Hans (it was particularly nice to see some diversity in the casting of Kristoff).

The production is also full of spectacle. I loved how they captured Elsa’s ice magic with light and sounds, and the puppets for Sven and Olaf are fantastic. It seems hard to believe that Sven is even a puppet, the movement is so fluid and seamless!

I liked almost all of the new songs particularly ‘Dangerous Dream’ and ‘Monster,’ which helped flesh out Elsa’s character and motivations. There is also a song for Kristoff, ‘What Do You Know About Love?’ and one for Hans, ‘Hans of the Southern Isles,’ that I liked very much. Anna sings ‘True Love,’ which was nice to give her one more serious song rather than the 2 naive happy songs of the film.

I don’t think Frozen: the Musical will win over the Frozen-haters crowd because it stays pretty close to the film but it did what a good adaptation should do: stick close but still add changes that make the new property their own. There was only one song, ‘Hygge,’ that I was not a fan of – partly because it went on too long and felt a little inappropriate for a show with so many small kids in the audience. I was also a little surprised they kept ‘Fixer Upper,’ as most don’t care for it but it was well-sung and staged a little better.

I have seen all the Disney musicals except for Aladdin and can confidently say Frozen: the Musical is my 3rd favorite after Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. It had everything I could ask for in this type of Broadway musical: emotion, great songs and incredible production design!

Look for Frozen: the Musical coming to Broadway in February 2018!

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About Rachel Wagner

Rachel has loved animation since she was a little girl singing songs from The Little Mermaid at the top of her lungs. She currently works in social media marketing and loves to blog and vlog about Disney, Pixar and all kinds of movies in her free time. Her favorite movie is Up and she considers herself quite the Cinderella aficionado seeing every version she can get her hands on. She also loves animated TV shows like Simpsons, Gravity Falls, Star Wars Rebels and more. Follow her on twitter @smilingldsgirl
  • k

    Would love to see the quick dress change and the castle building. But New York is far. I’ve heard they replaced the trolls with “Hidden folks” some kind of forest creatures. They look nice in the photos. Fits with the color scheme of Frozen. I would love to hear “Monster(aka Elsa)” somewhere suppose to be good. Maybe New York isn’t that far.

    • Rachel Wagner

      That’s true about the hidden folks. They were a little better than the trolls but not a huge change. They had kind of strange tails. I feel same way about New York but may just have to make it out there. I wish I could hear the soundtrack now because it was really good.

      • Manuel Orozco

        I’m not sure if I will like the Hidden Folk as long as their role in the plot is expanded. I didn’t care much for Fixer Upper and wish it wasn’t the last song.

        • Rachel Wagner

          It’s not the last song. Both True Love and Monster are after that song. Fixer Upper is the second song of Act 2

          • Manuel Orozco

            I know I meant for the movie silly.

          • Manuel Orozco

            By the way Rachel if you ever go to NYC you should do a review of the new Broadway version of Anastasia. Because I really want to see it although I was scared of the movie as a kid. I’ll see it just for how different it is

    • Manuel Orozco

      I saw a bootleg of Let It Go on YouTube and the quick dress is so well done. But no castle building no ticket for me

  • Raphael Howard

    I disagree with the assertion that Frozen is better suited for Broadway than animation. I agree that the narrative and characters need to be fleshed out, but the quest-based storyline (Anna spends the entire second act travelling from Arendelle to the North Mountain and back again) works a lot better in cinema, because theatre is smaller and more confined.

    I haven’t seen the stage musical or listened to the songs yet, so I’m not qualified to judge at the moment (I’m British, and it will probably arrive on the West End in late 2019, just before Frozen 2 hits cinemas – I’ll probably listen to the songs before then), but it’s interesting that longer reviews of the Denver tryout (e.g those of the NYTimes and The Chicago Tribune) were far more critical. I have a feeling that there may be disagreement between the critics and the public on this musical when it hits Broadway. This doesn’t really mean anything, as Beauty and the Beast and Wicked both got mixed reviews when they arrived on stage, but its a bit frustrating when you want Frozen: The Musical be a total critical success and justify the inevitable long run on Broadway…

    • Manuel Orozco

      I think the story can work equally on film and on stage. But I’m not totally excited about this like I was for the movie four years ago. One thing that is concerning me is the two act stricture of the adaptation particularly with Let It Go used as the Act One finale which does make sense vocally. But In Summer happens before Let It Go and Olaf is already being built. Based on what I’ve learned about the show so far, I thought it would be better if Act One ended with the Reprise of First Time in Forever and Anna’s heart being freezed. I said enough for now

    • Rachel Wagner

      I was more referring to the style of the songs being very belt and suited for broadway. The other Disney movies have needed a lot of changes to work.

      • Raphael Howard

        It’s hard to deny that Disney songs such as ‘Let it Go’ are perfect for Broadway, but they’re always going to be impressive, whether in a film or on stage. I’m more interested in how the other elements of the film are transferred to the medium of theatre, which has its own unique rules and challenges…

        • Manuel Orozco

          Well the sets and projections based on the photos do look impressive. And the costuming is pretty accurate. But another concern I have is how the show kept changing creative team members during development. I was thinking Bob Crowley (Mary Poppins and Aladdin) and Christopher Gatelli (Newsies) would have stayed on board as designer and choreographer respectively.

        • Rachel Wagner

          I thought they handled those elements really well.

      • Manuel Orozco

        True plus Robert Lopez is already a legend in training thanks to Avenue Q and Book of Mormon which I didn’t see except a OBC bootleg of Avenue Q. Which by the way didn’t make much an impression on me the first time. My point is he already had stage on his resume before Frozen.

  • Angelo Thomas

    I see a lot of similarities between Frozen the film and the musical Wicked, so I’m curious to see if the stage version of Frozen is more or less similar to Wicked than the film is.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Wicked brings back memories of middle school and seeing the national tour promo in theatres got me into theatre. The OBC recording was the first time I heard Idina Menzel sing. When I finally saw the show at the Pantages with Eden Espinosa as Elphaba and Megan Hitley as Glinda ten years ago, I experienced something beautiful. When I saw Frozen at the El Capitan, I wore one of my Wicked t shirts in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary on Broadway.

    • Manuel Orozco

      In movie theatres I mean

  • Manuel Orozco

    Watching the first look rehearsal video on YouTube multiple times makes me feel I’m excited for the movie all over again. But this time I’m being more cautious! If I actually see this new version depends on how it develops between now and March when it opens on Broadway! I never seen a Disney on Broadway adaptation before except the filmed performance of Newsies starring Jeremy Jordan presented by Fathom Events. Newsies was awesome! Other movies I like to see adapted are High School Musical (nearly a decade overdue), Descendants, Hocus Pocus (as a Halloween tradition), Brother Bear, Moana or Mulan. I want to see Aladdin as well because it looks so well put together in terms of staging.

    • Raphael Howard

      Moana would be nearly impossible to adapt to stage. Like Frozen, it’s a journey-based narrative, but here the journey takes up far more of the story. The narrative is also too episodic, and I haven’t even begun to discuss the difficulties of depicting the water on stage…

      The music and characters are great and fit Broadway traditions very well, but some films should not be made into stage plays…

      • Manuel Orozco

        You do have a point there but how Lin Manual Miranda has developed professionally in the past decade is one reason why Moana should be adapted. It’ll be difficult to stage but let’s see if Disney is willing to do it. Meanwhile HSM was my middle school years and I watched it almost every time it was on TV between 2006 and 2008. Brother Bear might be hard in terms of technicality but the story and themes have that sense of emotional resonance that the world needs now more than ever. On stage it would be like a bromantic West Side Story. If the transformation sequence is done, it cannot be staged without ballet used as a storytelling device.

  • Ahhh I really hope to see this musical one day!! So happy its looking good! Can’t wait for the cast album! :DDD

    • Rachel Wagner

      Me too!

  • Anonymous

    Now I wish I could see this.

  • Dk

    I was hoping Olaf wouldn’t be in this version

    • Manuel Orozco

      Say what? Olaf is more than just a comic relief! He’s a symbol of childhood innocence and the bond Elsa and Anna shared when they were kids. Although he wasn’t laugh out loud funny, I found his role to be quite clever.

  • Alexandria Lynn

    Aww, I really wanted to audition for this show when they did the auditions as Anna (casting listed for a young woman in her late teens/early twentieswith a wide vocal range [I fit both criteria], even though I have absolutely no previous theatre experience to put on my resumé whatsoever). But then when I saw that I had to be in Denver for most of this past summer, I was sad because I wouldn’t be available because I was attending a transitional independent living school for people with mid-to-high functioning disabilities, like my ASD (which is a bummer because I just withdrew from said school a couple of weeks ago; it was not a good fit for me). I know it sounds crazy, but I was just hoping that the producers would have looked past my lack of credentials and liked my ideas of “moving the story forward” (i.e. Anna would be the kind of girl who would drag Hans into doing whatever she wanted to do, replace the words “(Anna)…sandwiches/(Hans) That’s what I was going to say!” With “(Anna)[insert three-syllable food here]/(Hans) Hey! Where on earth did that come from?!?” in “Love is an Open Door”

    • Manuel Orozco

      I feel your pain. I have mild autism and am attending life skills classes in city college as well as learning to live on my own. I’m sure you will get another chance to be Anna if the show goes on national tour.

      • Alexandria Lynn

        That’s what I was thinking…

        • Manuel Orozco

          Just don’t give up

    • k

      Don’t let life keep you down. I’m sure Anna wouldn’t let stuff keep her down. Not for long anyway.

  • Ruise

    It looks beautiful…I’m excited to see it and hear all these new songs. Whenever that happens! They really should have dropped Fixer Upper tho. Also I did see Aladdin on Broadway and was disappointed, but Lion King and Beauty and the Beast were indeed great from what I remember and I have very high hopes for Frozen.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I’m still going to see Aladdin no matter what whenever it hits Costa Mesa